Here’s a question for you parents. How much money is your child worth? What is the price tag you would print out and paste on their forehead before putting them on the shelf at Wal-Mart? I’m sure you would say priceless. But how much is a missed opportunity to abort your disabled child worth to you? One Florida couple said $9 million. The jury agreed but only gave them half.
On September 9, a West Palm Beach jury awarded parents Rodolfo Santana and Ana Mejia $4.5 million because they did not get accurate information from Dr. Marie Morel and OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches. Their son Bryan Santana, now age 3, was born disabled. He has no arms and only one leg. The argument made by his parents was that if the clinic had told them their son was so disabled, they would have aborted him. And since they didn’t get a chance to terminate Bryan in the womb, and obviously they can’t legally do it now, they wanted millions of dollars.
The woman, who certainly will not win any mother-of-the year awards, told the jury during the two-week trial:
Definitely, I would have had an abortion.
I hope when little Bryan grows up he never Googles himself or his parents. I can’t imagine the horror when he reads that his parents wish they would have killed him. I wonder how quickly he will grasp that his parents think his life, since he has disabilities, isn’t worth living. I wonder if that jury considered how the disabled community would feel if they knew that a jury awarded these parents millions because they missed the opportunity to abort their disabled son.
Shortly after the jury made its decision I contacted Marc Sherman, Program Director for AccessABILITY Center for Independent Living, Inc. Sherman, who has been diagnosed with C5/C6 quadriplegia himself, had a strong reaction:
A disability is just a natural part of life. A person with a disability has just as much worth and just as much as importance as anybody else. It doesn’t matter what kind of disability, they have just as much worth and importance. They should get to choose how they want to live.
Sherman went on to explain that people with disabilities are guaranteed the same rights as anyone else, and that this case says a lot about how our culture still sees the disabled as less than equal:
The disabled have rights just like women or minorities. This case would be the same as if these parents wanted to abort a child because of gender or race. It’s the same thing as in China where you have women aborting children because they are females and not males.
It’s a valid argument. What would that jury have done if the parents complained that the clinic told them they were having a male but they had a female? What would the reaction be to a parent openly saying that they deserve millions because they would have aborted their girl if they knew she was going to be a girl? Any ultrasound nurse will tell you that every once in a while they get the gender wrong. Does this give precedence for future lawsuits?